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their hideous jaws to devour him; and he, a baby of a few months old, had gripped one of the fierce snakes in each of his little fists, and strangled them to death. When he was but a stripling, he had killed a huge lion, almost as big as the one whose vast and shaggy hide he now wore upon his shoulders.
"Perhaps you may have heard of me before," said he, 10 modestly; "my name is Hercules!"
"We had already guessed it," replied the maidens;
Then they flung beautiful wreaths over his stately head and mighty shoulders, so that the lion's skin was almost entirely covered with roses. They took possession of his ponderous club, and so entwined it about with the brightest, softest, and most fragrant blossoms that not a 10 finger's breadth of its oaken substance could be seen. It looked like a huge bunch of flowers. Lastly, they joined hands and danced around him, chanting words which became poetry of their own accord, and grew into a song, in honor of the illustrious Hercules.
"for your wonderful deeds are known all over the world. We do not think it strange, any longer, that you should set out in quest of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Come, sisters, let us crown the hero with flowers!"
And Hercules was rejoiced, as any other hero would have been, to know that these fair young girls had heard of the valiant deeds which it had cost him so much toil and danger to achieve. But still he was not satisfied. He could not think that what he had already done was 20 worthy of so much honor, while there remained any bold or difficult adventure to be undertaken.
"Dear maidens," said he, when they paused to take breath, "now that you know my name, will you not tell me how I am to reach the garden of the 25 Hesperides?"
"Ah! must you go so soon?" they exclaimed. "You that have performed so many wonders, and spent such a
toilsome life cannot you content yourself to repose a little while on the margin of this peaceful river?"
Hercules shook his head. "I must depart," said he. "We will then give you the best directions we can," replied the damsels. "You must go to the seashore, and 5 find out the Old One, and compel him to inform you where the golden apples are to be found."
"The Old One!" repeated Hercules, laughing at this odd name. "And, pray, who may the Old One be?"
Why, the Old Man of the Sea, to be sure!" an-10 swered one of the damsels. "You must talk with this Old Man of the Sea. He knows all about the garden of the Hesperides; for it is situated in an island which he is in the habit of visiting."
Hercules then asked whereabouts the Old One was 15 most likely to be met with. When the damsels had informed him, he thanked them for all their kindness, and immediately set forth upon his journey.
But before he was out of hearing, one of the maidens called after him. "Keep fast hold of the Old One, when 20 you catch him. Do not be astonished at anything that may happen. Only hold him fast, and he will tell you what you wish to know."
-NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE: A Wonder-Book.
in qui'ry, question; pas'time, something that passes the time, an amusement; re mon'stran ces, warnings; strip'ling, lad; pon'der ous, very heavy; chant'ing, singing; il lus'tri ous, famous.
1. Who was Hercules? What did you learn about him in the story of Jason? 2. Find out, if you can, what other labors Hercules performed. 3. Tell the story of Hercules' first encounter with a serpent. 4. Give some other instances of his great strength. 5. How were the golden apples guarded? 6. Find on your maps the country from which Hercules set out in quest of the garden of the Hesperides.
Sentence Study.-Rewrite the following sentences, expressing the same thought more briefly :
1. When Hercules was a tiny baby, only a few months old, two serpents of enormous size attacked him.
2. They opened their great jaws to devour him, but he seized one with one little hand, one with the other, and succeeded in strangling them.
3. Hercules, who was renowned for his bravery, determined to find the tree which bore fruit of pure gold.
4. This tree was guarded day and night, year in and year out, by a dragon, horrible to look upon.
5. Hercules, after much wandering through distant lands and over unknown seas, and after many adventures, strange in character, succeeded in getting the golden apples.
Word Study. 1. Young men sought for the golden apples. 2. Children listened to stories of the wonderful fruit. 3. The young women decorated his massive club. 4. The stag had brazen
Write in a column the words printed in black-faced type. Opposite them write their singular form. Write the plural form of ox, mouse, goose, tooth. Write sentences of your own, using first the singular, then the plural, forms of the eight words given above. These words are said to form their plurals irregularly.
HERCULES AND THE GOLDEN APPLES (Continued)
HASTENING forward, without ever pausing or looking behind, he by and by heard the sea roaring at a distance. At this sound, he increased his speed, and soon came to a beach, where the great surf-waves tumbled themselves upon the hard sand, in a long line of snowy foam. At one 5 end of the beach, however, there was a pleasant spot, where some green shrubbery clambered up a cliff, making its rocky face look soft and beautiful. A carpet of verdant grass, mixed with sweet-smelling clover, covered the narrow space between the bottom of the cliff and the sea. 10 And what should Hercules espy there, but an old man, fast asleep!
But was it really and truly an old man? Certainly, at first sight, it looked very like one; but, on closer inspection, it rather seemed to be some kind of a creature that 15 lived in the sea. For on his legs and arms there were scales, such as fishes have; he was web-footed and webfingered, after the fashion of a duck; and his long beard, being of a greenish tinge, had more the appearance of a tuft of seaweed than of an ordinary beard. But Hercules, 20 the instant he set eyes on this strange figure, was convinced that it could be no other than the Old One who was to direct him on his way.